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Kansas City Police Officers Can Live Outside City Limits – But Only In Missouri

The Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners at its monthly meeting on Tuesday.
Peggy Lowe
KCUR 89.3
The Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners at its monthly meeting on Tuesday.

The Board of Police Commissioners approved lifting the residency requirements, which was approved by the Missouri legislature last spring.

Kansas City Police Department officers will soon be able to live outside the city limits – but only on the Missouri side.

The Board of Police Commissioners on Tuesday approved the new policy, but stopped short of allowing officers to live on the Kansas side of the state line. Officers may live 30 miles outside the city limits on the Missouri side starting Aug. 31.

The opportunity to live in Kansas, which was not part of the plan when it was passed by the Missouri General Assembly last spring, was added to the policy at the request of the police union. That was shot down by the four commissioners, even as they wondered about getting more diverse recruits from Wyandotte County, Kansas.

“I want everybody to live in Kansas City, Missouri, period,” said Commissioner Cathy Dean, who worried aloud about response times being affected by the distance.

Deputy Chief Mike Wood said he was told by some recruits that “the sole reason they didn’t come over here is because they wanted to stay on the Kansas side, whether it be for school districts, taxes, whatever.”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas bristled at that suggestion, saying there are 14 school districts in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as charter schools. And he noted that the more than 5,000 city employees still must abide by the residency requirement, which the Kansas City Council supports.

Lucas was opposed to the law lifting the residency requirement when it was passed by the Missouri legislature, but he said lawmakers didn’t envision allowing people to live outside of the state.

“I don’t know why we need to necessarily expand beyond that, particularly when we’ve had generations of this requirement,” he said.

Lucas also wants to add benefits like salary increases to aid in retention and recruitment. And he said he’s also interested in enticements, including property tax abatements, mortgage assistance and take-home cars, to get employees to stay within the city limits or move into historically-distressed areas.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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